How Mindfulness in Schools Supports Teens Through Difficulty

Mindfulness meditation teacher Enrique Collazo is disrupting class-as-usual with a mindfulness and compassion curriculum.

Adobe Stock/Monkey Business

Enrique Collazo’s goal as the mindfulness director of Oakland’s MetWest High School is to improve students’ relationships with their thoughts, cultivate compassion, and celebrate interconnectedness through course curriculum and mindfulness sessions. And he’s seeing results. “There is a lot of self-criticism, self-hatred, and self-doubt. I hope the students leave the course with a little more room for parts of themselves that are hard to hold.”

He began working at MetWest in the fall of 2020 and had not previously met his students in person. Given the complex and deeply human nature of his work, he knew it would be a challenge over Zoom. The community he serves—93% students of color and 70% who live under the poverty line—has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Making matters more challenging, teens often opt to turn their cameras or even mics off in remote class. 

But sensing the rising levels of anxiety and loneliness in the teenage experience, Collazo knew his work was more important than ever. “It’s an incredibly disconnected time for teens,” says Collazo. So he challenged himself to teach in different ways and think out of the box, relying on the chat…